Don't belly flop the art

taken by Elyse Hughes

taken by Elyse Hughes

When I was in NYC, my friend Elyse and I went to the MoMA in hopes of seeing the Rain Room. If you haven’t heard about the Rain Room, it’s, I suppose, a traveling box from London where inside, duh, it’s raining, but all along the floor are sensors so whoever is walking around in the rain doesn’t get wet. This room, I felt it, was going to change my life. I went to NYC specifically to see the rain room and get a Cronut (a new hybrid donut/croissant that’s all the rage in the city now). Of course everything in the city has a line, but we received free tickets to the MoMA from Elyse’s friend and in my mind it was totally meant to be. Sadly, when we got there, the line was 5 HOURS 5 HOURS! On a random Wednesday in June. Who the hell were all these people waiting around on a Wednesday morning to see the rain room! Obviously, they didn’t know I was coming… And I didn’t get my Cronut either because that line was 2 hours and even if you got up at 6 am and stood outside the bakery, the chance of you getting one (unless you wanted to pay a scalper $20 for a $5 pastry) was very slim. Go figure – the mass people of NYC ruined my morning. But it all worked out. Elyse and I walked around the MoMA saw a gigantic hamburger (see photo) that looked to me like a bean bag chair and it took every good-girl bone in my body not to belly flop all over it. And then we saw an ice cream cone and like a foot or something and some other really weird shit. My impression: I don’t get it. But not wanting the rain room to ruin our morning, we decided we were desperate to wait in line for something we could actually see, so we queued up and entered a weird dark maze structure called “Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing.” It was full of NYC garbage this “artist” had been rummaging and collecting for many many years: broken toys, dildos, plastic fruit, petrified cigarettes, etc. I mean garbage. “So if I start going through the world’s trash,” I said, “basically become a hoarder and set up a museum in my house like a crazy person, I might one day be in the MoMA?” Dream big, Rachel. Dream big.
Consensus on Claes Oldenburg’s Mouse Museum: I don’t get it.
On to his Ray Gun wing … so right next to the mouse museum, was Claes Oldenburg’s ray gun collection. More “objects” he collected from around the city that all reminded him of ray guns. There were only like 2 actual ray guns, children’s toys I’m sure he found in the garbage working on his mouse masterpieces. We wandered the little, dark room moving from case to case: “this is a rock,” we both said pointing to an oblong gray object that maybe had the semblance of a handle. “This is a stick!” we guffawed pointing to an entire case of broken tree limbs.
Consensus on Claes Oldenburg’s Ray Gun Wing: I don’t have nearly the apartment space to start collecting all this crap. I don’t get it. My MoMA dreams were over.
But art has always been subjective right? That seems to be the point – the whole one man’s trash motto. And maybe it says something about how much we as people throw away or maybe it says something about holding on to childish notions; to see and imagine what ordinary objects can be outside their reality? I suppose it’s true that something so simple being in such a renowned museum would make us think: “why is this here?” “What am I suppose to get from this?” and maybe that’s the point. Or maybe it really is just a bunch of crap…
But all I know for sure is seeing that giant burger made me famished for a real burger. We left the MoMA a little confused, but hungry. We walked along 6 1/2 avenue, an avenue I had no idea even existed, entered Le Parker Meridien – no, not for $20 cocktails in the hotel lobby – for $7 burgers tucked away behind a curtain like something out of Oz. Even in the most unlikely places, magic happens: you pay cash instead of plastic, you order the one thing on the menu, you read all the signatures on the walls of all the people who have ever been here and think – I want to be remembered, too. I could quit my job and start scalping cronuts, too. Maybe Olaf Cronenburg was on to something: Live crazy, do what you love and the meaning will reveal itself in its own time. I think the line we were meant to stand in that day, lead to a really juicy burger and that was enough.

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